I thought this article was an interesting, alternative perspective on the much-maligned (in some quarters) health care system in the United States. The article indicates that although the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. number 37 in the world in terms of overall performance, based largely on the WHO’s view that the United States’ overall performance suffers due to lack of “universal coverage,” it ranks the U.S. system as number one in terms of “responsiveness to the needs and choices of the individual patient.” And when you look at the other statistics listed by the author’s article, and the litany of medical advances catalogued in the article, you begin to understand why that is so.
Last Sunday I happened to watch a bit of one of the Sunday news shows, and one of the talking heads said, earnestly and with complete conviction, that once the American people learn about what is in the “health care reform” legislation, they will begin to be happy with it. There is a lot of innate arrogance underlying such remarks, which implicitly communicate the view that the American people are too stupid to understand what is good for them, or simply have been gulled by right-wing ideologues, insurance company spin, etc. In any case, statistics like those quoted in the article linked above go a long way toward explaining why many people are worried about a 2,000-page bill with contents unknown even to the Senators who are voting on it. In America, where individualism is a treasured value, a health care system that is the best in the world at being responsive to the choices of individual patients is going to be viewed very favorably by most people. Those people are fearful that the current system may be ruined by new government regulatory schemes that will have unknown effects, by vaguely described mandates that may well make delivery of health care more cumbersome, and by yet more bureaucratic agencies interfering with their personal health care choices. Against that fear, the paternalistic assurances of talking heads about a handful of provisions that they think are useful is cold comfort, indeed.